Rami Malek took home Oscar gold on Sunday night for winning the best actor trophy for his portrayal of bisexual HIV+ Queen frontman Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody. This was Malek’s first Oscar win and first nomination.
“I may not have been the obvious choice,” Malek said, “but I guess it worked out.”
— The Academy (@TheAcademy) February 25, 2019
During his speech, Malek shouted out the living band members of Queen and his fellow actors, and then made mention of himself as a child who was “struggling with his identity” as a first-generation American, and then spoke to anyone else who was trying to figure out theirs.
“We made a film about a gay man, an immigrant, who lived his life just unapologetically himself,” Malek said. Malek said that this victory is “proof that we’re longing for stories like this.” While Malek did make mention of Mercury’s queer identity, Freddie Mercury was bisexual, which is mentioned in the film.
Malek’s victory makes another straight actor who has won Oscar gold for playing an HIV-positive person, including Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto for Dallas Buyer’s Club as well as Tom Hanks in Philadelphia.
Mercury did not mention Bohemian Rhapsody’s fired director Bryan Singer during his speech. The actor has distanced himself from the film’s director, who has faced several allegations of sexual assault including several from underage boys, in the months leading up to the Oscar ceremony.
Malek ended the speech by shouting out Lucy Boynton who played Malek’s female love interest in Rhapsody and who is now dating Malek in real life.